Sportsman of the Year
Life of Reilly
SI for Kids
SI Customer Service
SI Media Kits
Get into College
Sports fans love to reminisce over the days when it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.
|CNNSI.com asked if Hawks fans had any opinions on the subject. And guess what ... they did.
Click here to read a sampling of what CNNSI.com users had to say.
When the Hawks traded Dikembe Mutombo, it hardly had the emotional impact of the 1994 deal involving all-time fan favorite Dominique Wilkins. CNNSI.com's Kevin Loughery offers his insights on the Wilkins deal, plus other Atlanta travesties like the outrageous contract given to Jon Koncak; the J.R. Rider experience; and the trade of Pete Maravich.
| February 24,
| Hawks trade C Dominique Wilkins and a 1st-round pick to the L.A. Clippers for C Danny Manning
CNNSI.com's Loughery: This is a franchise killer. By far the toughest trade for Atlanta fans. In all honesty, skill-wise this was not a bad trade. However from a fan base, it set the Hawks back a long way. I've been in Atlanta for 20 years, and Dominique has been the biggest star athletically in those 20 years, and that's counting baseball, football and hockey twice. This is the player the fans associated with. You didn't have to say Wilkins -- just 'Nique.
The Human Highlight Film in action. Stephen Dunn/Allsport
Lenny Wilkens was the coach, 'Nique was aging. I think the team felt if they didn't trade him at that stage, they wouldn't get value for him. And, again, the trade value, talent-for-talent, was OK. But to the fans and the franchise, that was a killer.
CNNSI.com: And the hits kept coming. Manning played 26 regular-season and 11 playoff games with the Hawks, then rejected a long-term deal and bolted to Phoenix. He blew out his knee not long after, but that didn't lessen the fact that Atlanta got zilch for Wilkins and a first-round pick. Wilkins bounced around from L.A. to Boston to San Antonio and Boston (and Greece), a former star without a team (or country, apparently).
Hawks fans still haven't forgiven management, raining boos on Hawks president Stan Kasten for 15 solid minutes during Wilkins' jersey retirement ceremonies this season.
|| Loss of Manning makes earlier
trade hype hollow
Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- August 4, 1994
By Steve Hummer
You trade the figurehead of a franchise and a first-round draft choice for a slap in the face. Such a deal generally is not considered wily. It is not the recommended way to build for greatness.
The Hawks, after all, have obtained numerous shots to the head and body and paid nothing for them.
To lose Danny Manning is difficult enough. The Hawks say they were prepared for this abandonment. "In-house, we asked ourself the question, 'Would we do this if we knew Danny would not be back?' " said general manager Pete Babcock, describing a pre-trade scenario. "It was unanimous on our staff that it was worth making the deal.
"Lenny [Wilkens] and I are disappointed Danny is not coming back. But we were prepared for it. We made the trade with the understanding he wouldn't be back."
Somehow, it was never made clear last season that the Hawks were just renting Manning. Hope they got their deposit back.
|| Garrick Respress, Statesboro, Ga.:
"Dominique carried the torch for Atlanta's and Georgia's professional sports. Dominique is still the leading scorer in the history of the University of Georgia and the greatest player to make a career in a Hawks uniform! When the Braves were losing to college teams in exhibition games and Steve Bartkowski was getting sacked 15 times in a Falcons game, we Georgians had Dominique. Furthermore, this was an era when Atlanta's sports teams represented the entire South.
Wilkins topped out at 30.7 ppg in 1987-88. Mike Powell/Allsport
"Dominique was the only guy in the East who could go basket for basket with Larry Bird and Boston. What gratitude did the Hawks organization show? Well, they traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers for 'Mr. Softie,' Danny Manning.
"I'm sure that Brooklyn misses the Dodgers and Cleveland was lonely without the Browns. In my life nothing has affected me as much as the distasteful move made by the Hawks and Pete Babcock in trading Dominique Wilkins."
| September 1,
| Hawks re-sign C Jon Koncak
to 6-year, $13.2 million contract
CNNSI.com's Loughery: Koncak had a great postseason in '89, and Detroit made him a big offer in the offseason. That was a situation because here was Atlanta trying to compete against Detroit in the East and they had to match the contract. They probably signed him as much to keep him as to not let him go to Detroit. Koncak had a great playoff against Milwaukee, everything went right for him and he had himself quite a series.
How much would you pay for 4.5 ppg and 4.9 rpg? Mike Powell/Allsport
It looks like a mistake, it's easy to say they should have let him go. But at the time, it would have been difficult to let him go to Detroit.
CNNSI.com: Even at 7-feet, Jon Koncak was capable of playing over his head just long enough to secure a contract that quickly became a league-wide joke. After averaging 12.8 ppg (more than twice his career average) in a five-game postseason loss to Milwaukee, Koncak was targeted by the Pistons as the key component to back-to-back titles.
The Hawks, who had just signed Dominique Wilkins to a big contract, dug deep to keep Koncak, perhaps figuring he would eventually regain the post presence that made him a lottery pick out of SMU. He didn't, never averaging more than 4.2 points or 5.5 rebounds in any of the six ridicule-filled seasons.
By the way, Detroit got over not landing Koncak, winning its second title while the Hawks missed the playoffs.
|| Big contracts root of strife
in Koncak, Blauser careers
Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- May 26, 1996
By Furman Bisher
Jon Koncak's career with the Hawks had been mainly spent as a wide body in the traffic lane when he became a free agent. The Detroit Pistons shocked the community when they offered him a $13 million contract for four years. The Hawks returned the shock when they matched the offer to keep him. It wasn't Koncak's hard bargaining. He was only a large pawn in the games that these sports geniuses play.
What was he going to say? "No thanks, I'll play for less." No more than your wife would turn down a new Jaguar for Christmas.
Koncak spent the following seasons in the crosshair of fans' darts -- like a guy who had been caught stealing from the poor box. He was jeered and hooted, often cheered with derision, even the night when he scored 20 points. It took everybody by surprise, even him, like an unexpected visit from Halley's Comet.
Because of the money, he had been turned into an object of resentment. It hadn't been his idea. He wouldn't have been so presumptuous as to suggest that he was worth $13 million.
| August 2,
| Hawks trade G Steve Smith and G Ed Gray
to Portland for G Isaiah "J.R." Rider
and G Jim Jackson
CNNSI.com's Loughery: It's hard to believe why anybody would bring Rider into their locker room, although talent-wise you could see the temptation. But in my opinion, there's no way you bring J.R. Rider onto your ballclub. I think Hawks management knows they made a mistake. It's a situation where you see the talent, and Rider has dramatic and tremendous talent, and you feel as though you can be the team that gets the talent out, that he'll settle in ... be the team that gets him to change his stripes. And look at Rider now: He's with the Lakers and seems to be fitting in. Of course, winning helps.
J.R. Rider vowed to be a team player in Atlanta. Otto Greule Jr./Allsport
CNNSI.com: Steve Smith, whom Loughery coached in Miami, is a good guy and a steady performer. In his four seasons with the Hawks, he averaged 18.1, 20.1, 20.1 and 18.7 points. And he never missed a practice. Rider, on the other hand, came to Atlanta from Minnesota via Portland with more baggage than Thurston and Lovey Howell on a three-hour tour.
And he brought it with him, alternately being Joe Team and Joe Cool. He missed flights, practices, was suspended and finally waived after 60 illustrious games. He signed as a free agent with the Lakers in the offseason. Jim Jackson produced for the Hawks until getting dealt to Cleveland this season in a deal for point guard Brevin Knight.
| May 3,
| Hawks trade G Pete Maravich to Utah for F Dean Meminger, G Bob Kauffman and four draft picks, including the No. 1 in 1974 (F David Thompson)
CNNSI.com's Loughery: I can't really remember the circumstances around the time "Pistol" was traded. I know that neither Meminger, a nice power forward, nor Kauffman, a point guard, would do much of anything in Atlanta.
The thing about "Pistol" was that he just never got it done in the pros. He never was the player he was in college. Obviously everybody knew how fancy he was -- he was a great showman -- but honestly, he was a poor defensive player. He never really fit into the pro game. He never had the career. He was exciting, no question, so from a fan's perspective, this might have been a disappointing deal, but from a value point of view, it wasn't so terrible."
Loughery says Maravich just didn't click as a pro. |
CNNSI.com: Meminger averaged 7.1
points in two seasons with the Hawks; Kauffman averaged 3.9 in one. And what really hurt was that the No. 1 pick the Hawks got -- high-scoring David Thompson -- never signed. He went to Denver of the ABA ... just in time for the merger one season later. His 22.1 career average would have looked nice in a Hawks uniform.
Maravich, who did thrill Atlantans to the tune of 27.7 ppg in his final season, went home to New Orleans and continued to put up big numbers for subpar teams. In today's NBA, he would make every episode of SportsCenter while being the bane of his coach's existence.
Copyright © 2001|
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.